Montréal Railway Environs
10th & 11th August 2011
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff

Montréal is of course the railway capital of Canada, as it once had the HQ of both the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways, plus numerous railway builders and workshops. It still has the HQs of CNR and Via Rail, plus sizeable railway engineering and operational facilities.
The concourse at Montreal Gare Centrale on 11th August 2011

Montréal's Gare Centrale/Central Station these days is largely surrounded by tall buildings and air-rights developments. We were so tired at the end of a day's sightseeing that we did not walk around the large blocks to photograph the part of the exterior of the station which is visible. Instead we approached via the large underground shopping and food court complex.

Gare Centrale is the result of Canadian National consolidating all of its passenger services on a single station, whereas previously there were four separate CN/Grand Trunk stations around the city.

Construction started at the end of the 1920s but stopped during the Great Depression. Building recommenced during World War Two and the station opened on 14th July 1943. Services from the north and east approach via the Mont Royal Tunnel, through which only electric trains may pass.

The Via Rail departure and arrival display at Gare Centrale 1757 August 11th 2011

The long distance and regional services of Via Rail and Amtrak use the station, as does two AMT (Agence Métropolitaine de Transport) commuter lines to Deux Montagnes and Mont Saint Hilaire, the former using two car EMUs. I believe trains approaching from the south reverse into the station to avoid diesel exhaust underground.

(above) The main concourse of the station with a long line of passengers waiting to board the 18:30 (Tuesdays excepted) service to Halifax on August 11th. This will arrive in Halifax at 17:10 (Atlantic time) the next day.

(left) The Via Rail departures and arrivals board at 17:57 on August 11th and arrivals are clearly not doing well! I am relieved here the railway term "Voie", rather than airline term "Port" (as at Toronto) has been used.

 The frontage of the former Gare Windsor on 11th August 2011

The magnificent Gare Windsor/Windsor Station of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, a monumental pile which once housed the HQ of the CPR and its parent company Canadian Pacific Limited until it
moved to Calgary in 1996, is no more a station, even though confusingly it still named as such. It was built between 1887 and 1889, and expanded upwards in 1916.

At least the wonderful terminal building has been preserved but it has been converted to offices, restaurants, bars and a hotel. The former concourse is still accessible to the public as it provides a covered walkway through to the subway and commuter stations. The Bell Centre - an Ice Hockey and performance venue (Britney Spears
appeared on stage a few hours after these photos were taken) - was built in the location of the trainshed in 1993. (The Bell Centre was originally called The Molson Centre - clearly a change of sponsors!)

South entrance to the former Gare Windsor

(above) The north west elevation of the station

 

 

 

 

 

 

(left) The south east corner, showing part of the 1916 upward expansion.

On the concourse the former arrival and deaprture board contains displays illustrating the history of Gare Windsor The arrivals and departures board on the former concourse has been used to display a brief history of the station, as well as a guide to the complex.

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